Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In

The prime minister’s voice shouldn’t be the only one being heard

By Editorial      
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

In an election environment, it’s important to speak with one voice. So say the Liberals, who allegedly cracked down on former diplomats who were speaking their mind about China.

On July 30, the House Foreign Affairs Committee sat down to talk about a request from opposition members that the group study the details of that crack down, as laid out by The Globe and Mail on July 24. The original story said that David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, was contacted by a public servant at Global Affairs who said they were passing on a message from the Prime Minister’s Office that he check with them before making any public statements about China and the ongoing dispute between the two nations. A second former diplomat to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, was later reported to have had the same type of contact instigated by the PMO.

“These attempts to silence and intimidate the prime minister’s critics evoke similar circumstances that occurred throughout the SNC-Lavalin scandal and the prime minister’s treatment of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman,” said the July 26 letter to the clerk. “It is also part of a pattern of behaviour by the PMO to blame top civil servants for the Liberal government’s own incompetence and poor judgement, as demonstrated during Prime Minister Trudeau’s disastrous trip to India, which created a diplomatic crises.”

Given the Liberal majority on the committee, it wasn’t a surprise how that committee meeting ultimately turned out. In their letter, opposition MPs said that if a study were successfully launched, they wanted to hear from Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, the two diplomats, as well as the Global Affairs messenger, Paul Thoppil, the assistant deputy minister for Asia-Pacific. 

On July 29, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denied that his office told former diplomats to clear their statements with them first. “I can confirm that the PMO did not direct that to happen,” he told reporters in Vancouver. Others with more patience for semantics will parse those words, but they were enough to have the Liberal caucus falling in line. The five Grit members of the nine-person committee easily shot down the request to study the matter, seeing as the prime minister said it’s “case closed.”

This is a common practice with this government—deny, deny, deny the charge, and deny any attempt to get more information. The House Justice Committee’s examination of the claims by former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould that she experienced undue pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office and other high-ranking ministerial officials to pursue a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin was practically an anomaly.

Sure, it can be construed as a waste of time and simply providing the opposition a soapbox upon which to grandstand and proselytize, but if there’s truly “nothing to see here,” then let them have their study. If these matters are as baseless as the Liberals claim, there shouldn’t be any fear in airing them publicly. But, in an election environment, it’s apparently important to speak with one voice—and that voice is the prime minister’s, saying “no.”

Explore, analyze, understand
Inside Ottawa Directory – 2019 Edition
The handy reference guide includes: riding profiles, MPs by province, MP contact details, both Hill and constituency and more.

Get the book
Spinning History: A Witness to Harper’s Canada and 21st Century choices
An unvarnished look at the Harper years and what lies ahead for Canadians

Get the book
Sharp Wits & Busy Pens
Sharp Wits & Busy Pens, written by current and former Parliamentary Press Gallery reporters, tracks the evolution of political journalism in Canada

Get the book

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning

Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

McKenna wins re-election in Ottawa Centre, trumpets voters’ support for climate fight

News|By Neil Moss
'I’m so relieved,' Catherine McKenna said, about continuing with the Liberal climate change plan.

Election 2019 was a ‘campaign of fear,’ say pollsters

'There may well be a message to this to the main parties, that slagging each other will only take you so far,' says Greg Lyle.

Election 2019 campaign one of the most ‘uninspiring, disheartening, and dirtiest’ in 40 years, says Savoie

News|By Abbas Rana
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she has never seen an election where mudslinging overwhelmingly dominated the campaign, leaving little or no time for policy discussion.

Strategic voting to determine if Liberals will form government, say political players

News|By Abbas Rana
As many as nine per cent of progressive voters could vote strategically in this close election potentially affecting the outcome in more than 100 ridings, says Innovative Research president Greg Lyle.

Turkish offensive should pressure feds to act on repatriation of Canadian citizens in Kurdish-controlled ISIS detention camps, says expert

News|By Neil Moss
The issue of repatriation will be less politically fraught after the election, says expert.

Business tops experience among 2019 candidates, one-third have run for office before

Here’s an analysis of the record 1,700-plus candidates running for the six major parties this election.

Pod save us all: the growing role of political podcasts in election 2019

News|By Mike Lapointe
The Hill Times spoke with some podcast hosts taking a deeper dive into the political nitty-gritty, within a medium that only continues to grow in popularity.

No-shows from Conservative candidate could hurt party’s chances in tight Kanata-Carleton race, say politicos

News|By Palak Mangat
The Conservative's candidate, Justin McCaffrey, has skipped two events, including a debate on the environment, intended to feature all candidates.

For whom will the bell toll in Peterborough-Kawartha?

In a riding where voters are deeply engaged in the political process, candidates avoid the low-hanging fruit and stay out of the mud as they grapple with who to send to the House of Commons.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.